Monday, June 6, 2011

Day 21- This is the life, squalls and all!

Time: 1700 Zulu (noon PV time)
Position: 19-deg 24-min N 144-deg 36-min W
Wind: NE 17-knots Seas: NE 5-ft
Avg. Course: 278 T Avg. Speed: 4.9-knots
Rig: 80% jib
24-hr distance traveled: 118-nm
Distance to Hilo: 593-nm

The Pacific can actually be quite calm. Today was one of those days we've imagined sailing in the trade winds could be like. Clear blue skies, consistent breezes (12-15-knots) yet small seas (down to 2-ft!) with the drifter alone whispering us along at nearly 5-knots. Life is good.

During our late afternoon overlap time, we enjoyed a St. Patty's Day dinner of corned beef and buttery cabbage and potatoes (Pisces where were you with the Guinness??) in the comfortable shade of our awning. We then made the conservative choice, although it was difficult as the sailing was so superb, to change the sail configuration for the night. Up went the mainsail to shadow the drifter, down came the drifter, and up went the 80% in its place. (In our estimation, it's all well and good to say we're fine getting waken up to help reduce sail in the middle of the night, but in reality, by that time, it's really too late and something is more likely to go wrong in the dark). We made nearly the same speeds, but felt more in single-handed control. The evening watch change is getting earlier and earlier in the daylight. So much so, that Shawn can start her watch off in a sundress and lifevest (versus the usual foul weather gear). On the other hand, with the light still strong, Chris has less motivation to crawl into the bunk and is therefore getting to sleep later and later.

It was a magical night watch, Tao sailing over 5-knots in to the moonset with dolphin playing in her bow wave, jumping and splashing in fun. Then Shawn noted something on the eastern horizon- maybe a star rising? But alas, the binoculars confirmed that it was a ship. AIS on. Yup, there it is, just over 10-nm away and headed for somewhere in Japan. Once the ship's information was received, the AIS immediately soothed worries of a collision course by visually showing Tao and our heading as well as the ship and its heading with the closest point expected to be over 8-nm away. Continued checks with the binoculars, confirmed that indeed the bearing was changing in the expected direction. Another AIS success story.

Chris then came onto the graveyard shift and was treated to a mellow watch with an hour of moonlight, the first on that watch in several weeks, and a clear view of the southern cross before the moisture started to move in. It wasn't until Shawn's dawn watch that the squalls organized. Though she was able to sip her tea for the first hour, after that, it was a busy watch. Just as time to check in with the Amigo Net came (which is by the way completely in the dark now), the winds piped up, and kept coming. So, Shawn pulled the 1st, then quickly the 2nd, and after a few more moments, finally the 3rd reef. An hour later, post-Don's-weather, thinking she'd made it through, an even bigger squall passed over us forcing our heading nearly 90-deg above our intended course. Down came the mainsail as well.

The blustery NEasterlis are back and in a quick hour of increased winds, the seas have also returned with force. We currently find ourselves a bit north of our intended 19-deg 22-min north by longitude 150-deg west so we'll likely make some sail changes to lose some northing over the coming day. As we've gotten to enjoy it, we're hoping that the sun will again make its late afternoon appearance to clear up all these squalls so we can again dry everything out and top off our battery bank.


  1. All is well here. Just talked with Burg and Marcia. Looks like you're approaching Hilo with reasonable rapidity. May the sun sparkle it's way through the squalls ahead! Keep up the smiles. Love you lots, Mum

  2. looks like you guys are making great progress! wish i could give you a bit of our daylight, and our ideal sailing weather, which I can't say most of the year!